With its high windows, wooden built-ins and pastel paint job, Mother's lives up to its namesake. An ever-busy downtown restaurant, it's also as inviting as your mom's kitchen (that is, if your mama is as accomplished as owner-chef Lisa Schroeder). Mother's makes classic, simple American meals very well. The ribeye steak was perfect—lightly seasoned and broiled to a warm pink in the center, and paired with crisp, salty fries and sautéed spinach. Nothing too fancy—done just right. Like many a mom, though, Mother's can falter when it strays from what it knows best. Lackluster curry distracts from the solid standards, and the Caesar salad is overdressed with no anchovy bite. But comfort food—like Mother's addictive pierogi with caramelized onions and sour cream—is the real reason to visit Mom anyway. (ES)

Signature dish: The rotating mac-'n'-cheese selection takes this old favorite into uncharted territories.

Standouts: Pierogi with caramelized onions and sour cream, pitch-perfect

steak frites.

Regrets: Caesar salad could improve with a bit more flavor.